Olmsted County Coroner Records
ďHis death was not caused feloniously.Ē
These are the words of the Olmsted County coronerís jury concerning the 1901 death of a Henry Schmelzer in Rochester, Minnesota. Mr. Schmelzer committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid, and the bottle containing the poison is pictured here. The bottle was discovered in the coronerís inquest file (no. 151) for Mr. Schmelzer, along with statements given by coronerís inquest witnesses. Witnesses included Henryís two brothers and his spouse, Emma. According to the testimony, Henry had been depressed for sometime about his failing crops. His body was found three days after he went missing in the unfinished basement of the new part of a Catholic church. The empty bottle of carbolic acid was found near Henryís body.
Recently the State Archives collection received coronerís inquest files dating from the 1880s to the 1980s from the Olmsted County District Court. Usually, a coronerís inquest was only conducted if a death was caused by homicide and suicide, or if the death was somehow suspicious. Not all of the files contain such details about a death, such as Mr. Schmelzerís, but coronerís records are useful for family history. The State Archives preserves coronerís inquest files, and coronerís registers and record books from most of Minnesotaís counties. These records are available for use in the Society's Library.